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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: When your country becomes a murderers’ sanatorium

We recently heard that one of the world’s most brutal killers who had masterminded the callous genocide of almost a million Tutsis, Rwanda’s Protais Mpiranya, was found buried in Harare.

For almost 30 years, the world had sought in vain to find him and other 93 indictees of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Ashamedly, our country’s despots had provided asylum to such a notorious character responsible for such a heinous and gruesome act.

On May 21 1991, almost 31 years ago to the day, Zimbabwe had yet again provided asylum to wanted Ethiopian ruler and strongman, Mengistu Haile Mariam. The former repressive leader is still enjoying our hospitality here in Harare while his victims are still searching for justice in Ethiopia.

Indeed, it is shameful when your country becomes a sanatorium to the world’s most wanted murderers. But then, maybe there is no reason to wonder why we have acquired such a shameful reputation by providing refuge to the world’s murderers and butchers of mankind. And I will explain why.

A man is defined by those with whom he fraternises. They say your network is your net worth. And over the years, the regime in Harare has shown that it is more at home among this global network of murderous regimes.

Birds of a feather

There is an English proverb that says birds of a feather flock together. Or, as the late Paul Matavire would say in his own colourful rendition of the same phrase: ornithological species of identical plummage perambulate in close proximity (Given his needlessly high verbiage, I think Chris Mutsvangwa would identify with the latter version).

The Shona people have their own equivalent to this phrase whose import is that like-minded people associate with each other. Or, as Chris Mutsvangwa would say: Personages of equilibrium aptitude and deportment hobnob with each other. The Shona equivalent is Dzinofura nzivani , which in short means birds of the same feather flock together.

That we would associate with murderers to the extent of granting them asylum is confirmation of the murderous traits of our own successive regimes in Harare. Mpiranya, who died of a heart attack in 1996, had acquired a new name and was now called Sambao Ndume.

That the Zimbabwean State was complicit in his seeking of sanctuary in Harare can be confirmed by the fact that he arrived in the country aboard a military plane.

Hidden secret ... Protais Mpiranya was buried at this grave in Harare in 2006
Hidden secret … Protais Mpiranya was buried at this grave in Harare in 2006

Reports say Mpiranya had been Zimbabwe’s valued ally in the Congo war of 1998-2003. And we all know which Zimbabwean was at the epicentre of the looting of diamonds in the DRC.It is exactly the same guy who as Robert Mugabe’s trusted sidekick was the vital cog in the Gukurahundi genocide in Zimbabwe. We have had successive murderous regimes in Harare and there is little wonder as to why we would consort with those who don’t value human blood.

The State in Zimbabwe, the “system”, has provided sanctuary to its own murderers in the country and there is little wonder why we would earn this infamous reputation of being a haven to Africa’s despicable murderers.

Zanu PF’s Kizito Chivamba and then CIO director Elias Kanengoni were convicted of attempted murder when they were part of the team that pumped six bullets into the groin of Patrick Kombayi in the 1990 election.

Even though the two were convicted, Robert Mugabe pardoned them. Kanengoni remained in the employ of the State and even rose higher within the CIO.

Chivamba, who at the commission of the crime in 1990 was a youth leader, rose higher in Zanu PF and was the party’s vice chairperson for the Midlands province and MP for Chiwundura by the time he died in April 2017.

I have lost friends to this murderous regime. In 2008, just a few months after we were acquitted of trumped-up terrorism charges, armed State security agents pounced on the Mabvuku home of Tonderai Ndira and abducted him.

His body was discovered in Goromonzi, having been brutally murdered by the regime. Together, we had spent almost six-months in the D-class section of Harare Central prison.

From 1980 to 2022, State-sanctioned violence and murder have been the order of the day, the latest murder cases being those of Nyasha Zhambe and Mboneni Ncube.

We have a murderous regime in Harare.

Conclusion

It is quite an infamous reputation to provide a safe haven to the world’s brutal killers. To quote George Bush’s most famous statement, those who hunt down the killers will make no distinction between the murderers and those who harbour them.

The Shona equivalent is Tsuro inorohwa nechigwenzi chayo , meaning the hunter’s knobkerry will quash both the hare and its hiding lair.

With Mengistu around and with a United Nations team having found the grave of one of the world’s most notorious killers in Harare, we have quite become a well-known sanatorium of brutal killers.

Quite not surprising. Even our own local killers continue to enjoy sanatorium within the State system. Thats why Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Commander-in-Chief and ultimate head of the country’s security services, is still to take action against those rogue soldiers who killed innocent civilians in August 2018 and in January 2019. Instead of prosecuting them as recommended by his own probe team, he has instead provided them sanctuary and sanatorium within the system.

Yes, the regime provides sanatorium to both home-grown and international murderers.

It’s quite a reputation!

Luke Tamborinyoka is a citizen from Domboshava and an interim deputy champion for Presidential Affairs in the Citizens Coalition for Change ( CCC ). You can interact with him on his Facebook page or on his twitter handle @ luke-tambo.

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